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Talking through “Beginner’s Mind” the Zen concept of “Shoshin”, then a deep dive into why you may need to constantly plan ahead to feel in control all the time.
In the Zen concept of “Shoshin” or “beginner’s mind” we need to keep our ego out of the learning process. We’ll go through what this is
The moment that you think you’ve made it is the moment you stop learning.
A good example of this is when I was recently working with a Karate student, this person has an advanced level of training in a similar style. As we began working the Kata (A floor exercise of Karate movements fighting one or more imaginary attackers.) lesson I noticed he was struggling to perform the techniques in the way I was demonstrating. His previous knowledge that had been ingrained in him was preventing absorbing the things I was teaching. It wasn’t on purpose, it was ‘muscle memory’ of course, but the result was a ‘full cup’.
This reference to a ‘full cup’ is from reference to a classic Zen story about having a beginner’s mind which goes:
Once, a long time ago, there was a wise Zen master. People from far and near would seek his counsel and ask for his wisdom. Many would come and ask him to teach them, enlighten them in the way of Zen. He seldom turned any away.
One day an important man, a man used to command and obedience came to visit the master. “I have come today to ask you to teach me about Zen. Open my mind to enlightenment.” The tone of the important man’s voice was one used to getting his own way.
The Zen master smiled and said that they should discuss the matter over a cup of tea. When the tea was served the master poured his visitor a cup. He poured and he poured and the tea rose to the rim and began to spill over the table and finally onto the robes of the wealthy man. Finally the visitor shouted, “Enough. You are spilling the tea all over. Can’t you see the cup is full?”
The master stopped pouring and smiled at his guest. “You are like this tea cup, so full that nothing more can be added. Come back to me when the cup is empty. Come back to me with an empty mind.”
Your Need For Control
Do you seek feelings of safety through a need to plan and control?
As important as it is to have a plan, we still need to be careful to not let the act of planning control us.
What happens if your plan doesn’t work. What happens when life doesn’t work the way you expect it to work or the way you want it to work. Will you fall apart? Will you fail to act because whatever details change or don’t happen wasn’t planned out?
The only true condition in life that we all live in is the unknown.
Let go of the control you feel like you need, just a little to start, and hopefully a lot more after some practice. In our subconscious mind our Ego tries to protect us, it starts telling us that things have to be done “my way”. The thought that “It won’t get done right unless you do it yourself” is rather poisonous to personal growth. This is actually our subconscious mind pushing us to seek comfort. That good feeling that we are in control of things because we are superior to others. We have the inherit strength and power to accomplish what needs to get done and we don’t really have the time right now to wait on someone else to get up to speed and do it on their own. We are not that strong, we cannot do everything. At some point, to truly succeed at scale, we have to trust others to do what they are there to do, without our interruption.